Audit results ring familiar bells

Budgets are exceeded, deadlines are over-run and the quality of the new system is far below the standard agreed upon when the project was undertaken.

Sound familiar? This is how a government report describes the process of selecting and implementing IT financial systems in Federal agencies.

The report released last week by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) follows Government reforms announced two years ago for agencies to have accrual accounting in place.

Except for a few notable exceptions, the ANAO found nearly all agencies were subjected to a "difficult implementation process" and compromises had to be made to meet time frames.

"This included accepting systems which did not meet agencies' basic needs as identified in the selection process," the report said.

Moreover, very few agencies selected a financial management information system appropriate to their size and complexity.

The audit found small- and medium-sized agencies selected large products in excess of their needs, increasing cost and complexity of implementations.

While the report recognised lack of experience in the selection process by agencies, it also found time frames and system expectations too optimistic with only a few projects meeting their 'go-live' dates.

This optimism increased some of the project management problems, the report said.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations achieved the highest levels of dissatisfaction in the audit, which covered agencies ranging in size from 30 to 100,000 staff.

Suppliers of financial management information systems included Computer Associates, Systems Union, SAP Australia, Oracle and Wizard Information Systems.

Human resource management information systems suppliers included Compuware Asia Pacific, Mincom and PeopleSoft.

A copy of the full report with key findings and recommendations is available at www.anao.gov.au

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